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Group Leader, Combustion and Fuel Science Research

Date: Sep 15, 2021

Location: Knoxville, TN, US, 37932

Company: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Requisition Id 3715 



ORNL is seeking an international expert to lead, grow, and provide vision to our transportation decarbonization research in the combustion and fuel science area. The successful candidate will serve as the Group Leader for the Combustion and Fuel Science Research Group and lead a world-class team of researchers and facilities in accordance with the ORNL and DOE mission.  Selection will be based on qualifications, relevant experience, skills, and education. This position is within the Buildings and Transportation Science Division (BTSD), which houses the National Transportation Research Center and the Building Technology Research and Integration Center.  The selected Group Leader will be a part of the Propulsion Science Section.

The mission of the Propulsion Science Section is to accelerate the development of combustion, electric, and hybridized propulsion systems to enable an efficient, clean, and low carbon transportation future.  The role of the Combustion and Fuel Science research group is to support this mission by providing leadership in combustion and fuels research from fundamental science to application, with a particular emphasis on low carbon fuels.

The R&D Group Leader brings together a group of peers with the primary goal of pursuing global scientific leadership in their field, nurtures ORNL’s culture among group members, and continues to build and scale up individual excellence and impact in R&D. The R&D Group Leader reports to and works closely with the R&D Section Head to implement the group’s scientific vision; develops group members to enable their career advancement; establishes capabilities that enable programs to excel at the forefront of science and technology; performs R&D to advance the field of knowledge and/or technology in one’s respective specialty; sets, implements, and models standards for performance of work consistent with Environment, Safety, Security, Health, and Quality (ESH&Q) requirements and business rules; and ensures a diverse and inclusive work environment where every employee feels safe, heard, and appreciated—a workplace that sets an example for the broader community.


Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Initiate and perform independent R&D on an ongoing basis. Present and report research results in high-impact peer reviewed journals, conferences, and project reviews.
  • Develop a vision and implement a cohesive group research strategy to ensure the success of new and ongoing research projects to position the group for future success.
  • Serve as immediate supervisor for staff members in the group.  Assist staff in setting performance goals consistent with the group’s strategy and members’ long-term career goals. Provide feedback to address performance issues in a timely manner.
  • Develop and implement plans to exploit new opportunities and/or expand existing efforts.  Encourage staff to “think and dream big,” take appropriate risks in their work, and develop skills that will enable them to pursue new ideas, scientific passions, and research programs.
  • Provide relevant input to assist the R&D Section Head with staff development while providing direct and impactful guidance to staff on a regular basis.
  • Attract a quality, diverse pool of top candidates and hire staff members who are committed to world-class R&D and aspire to be the best in their field.
  • Develop multidisciplinary research leveraging ORNL capabilities and core strengths towards solving critical challenges associated with hybridized powertrains as applied to the transportation sector.
  • Network and develop collaborative R&D with other organizations including original equipment manufacturers, universities, automotive suppliers, and other relevant research laboratories.
  • Advance the reputation of the group members and standing of the group as a whole through establishing collaborations, Professional Society leadership and involvement, and organization of technical events.
  • Lead by example by exercising the principles in ORNL’s “Research Code of Conduct” as a guide for proposing, performing, and communicating research.
  • Assume front-line responsibility for safety in the group’s laboratories; mentor and empower the Laboratory Space Managers to create a strong safety culture. Coach and mentor staff regarding Battelle’s “Safe Conduct of Research” principles.  Lead ESH&Q by example and ensure all work is carried out safely, securely, and in compliance with ORNL policies, standards, and procedures.
  • Exemplify a commitment to “One ORNL” by modeling lab expectations for excellence in research, operations, and community engagement, and by working cooperatively to leverage capabilities across the lab.


Qualifications Required:

  • Ph.D. or M.S. degree with at least 6 years of relevant experience in mechanical engineering or an equivalent field with a focus on internal combustion engines.
  • Demonstrated experience in leading R&D teams and managing R&D projects.
  • Demonstrated capability of conducting and disseminating original and impactful research, including a publication record in peer-reviewed journals.
  • A strong commitment to promoting a positive work environment and scientific integrity.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills for presentations, reports, proposals, and publications.
  • Ability to function well in a fast-paced research environment, set priorities to accomplish multiple tasks within deadlines, and adapt to changing needs.
  • A strong commitment to, and understanding of, laboratory work safety.
  • Some travel will be required for this position. No clearance level required.



  • To group staff, for the quality and safety of their work environment and opportunity for professional growth.
  • To R&D section head, for world-leading science and technology directions; safe, effective, and compliant operations; supervision of assigned staff; stewardship of ORNL facilities and equipment; and the quality of products and services.
  • To customers, for the quality of products and service.



  • Develop a vision and implement a strategy to pursue world-leading science and technology directions for the R&D group.
  • Hold staff accountable for performance.
  • Act to ensure safe and effective operations.
  • Certify the technical quality of the group’s products and services.


This position will remain open for a minimum of 5 days after which it will close when a qualified candidate is identified and/or hired.

We accept Word (.doc, .docx), Adobe (unsecured .pdf), Rich Text Format (.rtf), and HTML (.htm, .html) up to 5MB in size. Resumes from third party vendors will not be accepted; these resumes will be deleted and the candidates submitted will not be considered for employment.

If you have trouble applying for a position, please email

ORNL is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants, including individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, are encouraged to apply.  UT-Battelle is an E-Verify employer.

Nearest Major Market: Knoxville